President calls for binding global climate agreement

Climate disruption/COP21/World Summit on Climate and Territories – Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic (excerpts)

Lyon, 1 July 2015


The fight against global warming must also mobilize all territories. In other words, the stronger national contributions are, the emptier this commitment will be if it’s not honoured by territories. So as head of state of the country that is going to host the Climate Conference, I’m awaiting the territories’ contribution to the Climate Conference from all of you.

You’ve already made a lot of progress in this direction, because this summit in Lyon signals a change which began several years ago at the Bali conference in 2007 [and which continued] until the Rio+20 summit – I was there – in 2012. There have been active efforts by all local authority networks, and climate road maps by local governments and governments around the world. The Mayor of Paris has brought together the mayors of the main capitals. There’s been the Paris appeal, there’s been the Bordeaux appeal, the Yamoussoukro appeal, the Quebec appeal. I’m pleased there are as many appeals as there are cities, but it should still be able to converge and come together.

Your gathering itself is a time for dialogue and discussion, but also proposals. You’re tackling every theme – those of the conference: mobility, transport, renewable energy, energy efficiency, the low-carbon economy, the circular economy, and finance. You’re right, because the challenge isn’t sectoral, it’s global, it’s about taking into account every dimension of all economic, social and even political organization so that we can get the result.

Your summit is also part of a process. A month ago it was the world’s businesses that met at UNESCO in Paris to prepare the Climate Conference. It was at this conference that there was a strong declaration in favour of having a carbon price. It’s now called a carbon corridor. But I don’t want to complicate the exercise. A carbon price, so that a signal can be sent to all economic players that a cost is inflicted on the planet whenever there are CO2 emissions. It’s now businesses that are upholding this principle. Not out of philanthropy – this may occur, because businesses too, at any rate business leaders, executives and employees are conscious of what’s at stake – but because it’s also a factor that must enable them to make better investments, better choices, and also be more competitive thanks to this carbon price.

Soon there will also be the conference of climate scientists, still in Paris, to show that there’s no longer any debate about the causes or even the existence of global warming. Previously there were a few people whose minds were clouded over or frozen perhaps and who hadn’t understood that the scientific data was undeniable. It will be recalled once again, after so many IPCC reports, even though we know it all; the public, the people must be enlightened, enlightened by science, by reason, and not simply by fear or emotion.

So at the end of July there will be a Summit of Conscience with spiritual leaders, precisely so that we can enlighten people and send a message of hope but also about fighting.

What’s our goal for the Climate Conference in Paris? We want – the principles are now known – an alliance that can rely on four pillars.

The first is a universal, binding agreement – I’m using words which are hackneyed but nevertheless convey what we want to do. Universal means concerning the whole world. Differentiated means that the same constraints or the same rules won’t be set for every country. We’ll take their level of development into account. And this will be applicable to everyone.

The second pillar for the alliance, if we want to make the agreement a success, is that contributions should be put forward by countries, and that they should be brought together and assessed before the conference. Today, some 40 countries have presented contributions, out of more than 190. China has just presented its own, and we’ve recalled – Nicolas Hulot recalled – the importance of this contribution. The Chinese Premier, who is in France at the moment, wanted to announce his country’s contribution in France. It’s a strong contribution, because it concerns not only the reduction of CO2 emissions, through the limitation and indeed the ultimate elimination of coal in a number of power stations, but also actions that must aim to reduce the carbon intensity of Chinese growth.

It’s encouraging. Other contributions are being presented at the moment. We can imagine that in the autumn, 90% of greenhouse gas emissions will be covered by the contributions. This applies to every country. Morocco has also presented its contribution. Gabon has done so. If poorer countries need support, France has declared that it can, through the French Development Agency, support each of those countries to make high-quality contributions.

In this agreement we must also have a finance dimension. It will be the most important thing. That’s where things will be played out. In fact, whether it be for the climate or other subjects, it’s always over money, over finance, that things are done or not done. We still have to find out how to raise this finance and how to use it.

The fourth dimension of the agreement is you. It’s the Lima-Paris Action Agenda, it’s everything territories, businesses, non-governmental and non-state actors are going to put forward to combat climate disruption.

It’s in this part that you can fully play your role. You must highlight the concrete results already achieved: they are considerable. You’ll be able to show the practices which can be disseminated, adapted to everyone’s situation, the investments which have already been made and which work, in the fields of the energy economy, renewable energy, waste, transport, mobility, the circular economy, everything you’re doing today or intend to do tomorrow, particularly through the decisive concept of sustainable cities, because in the emerging countries, in developing countries, the issue of the future of cities arises. (…)./.

Published on 16/02/2016

top of the page